Mannford police are investigating what the police chief calls a disturbing case of nursing home abuse.
Police Chief Lucky Miller says his department received a tip that some caretakers at the Cimarron Pointe Nursing Home were abusing patients in their care.
Miller says the abuse was reported to the Department of Human Services through email on May 20, 2019. But Miller says his department was never contacted by DHS, which is protocol.
He says because police weren’t notified, seven residents endured months of abuse that could have been stopped in May.
Officers arrested Senite Smith, one of four suspects, Thursday. Miller says he and investigators confirmed the abuse through pictures, text messages and an interview with Smith.
An arrest affidavit says Senite Smith, a certified nursing assistant, took a selfie showing a nude, elderly man lying in the background. The court document says Smith sent a text message of the picture saying he was high and noted to look at the man’s private parts.
The affidavit says there were two other pictures showing a man’s bloody head with message indicating he’d pushed him in the shower. The arrest affidavit shows Smith also texted he liked the smell of blood.
The affidavit shows Smith told investigators we was attempting to be edgy and the man had actually fallen down and cut his head. But the court document says Smith admitted to slapping and cussing one elderly man and being rough while cleaning an elderly woman.
The arrest affidavit says Smith told investigators he saw other employees abusing elderly residents.
Nursing home owner Frank Sullivan, Jr. said in a written statement that within two hours of hearing the specific allegations, they reported them to the Department of Human Services and Adult Protective Services.
He said nothing in the prehire history of the workers suggested they were potential threats to residents. All have been fired and told not to return to the building.
“Of the four persons accused, three were employed by us as late as yesterday afternoon. The fourth employee was terminated sometime ago for speaking harshly and profanely to a resident. There have been no complaints about the remaining three employees who are involved and who were terminated yesterday.”
“As a result of this event, we will be more vigilant and more protective and will install new protocol in an effort to prevent acts such as these from ever happening again," Sullivan said.
The affidavit says Smith described one worker as sadistic. He told investigators, according to the court document, that the employee would put a resident in the shower and intentionally run cold water on her until she screamed. The affidavit says the employee slapped an elderly man in his private parts on multiple occasions, poured ice on a resident and stole pain pills.
The court document says Smith didn’t report the abuse because the worker was his friend.
The court document says Smith did not have a reason for taking a selfie with the nude, elderly resident. The affidavit says that man has since passed away. Smith, 21, was booked on six complaints of abuse by caretaker, 1 count of sexual exploitation of a vulnerable adult, and seven counts of permitting abuse by a caretaker.
Mannford Police expect to make three more arrests.
Frank Sullivan, Jr., manager and owner of Cimarron Pointe Care Center, issued the following statement:
Yesterday afternoon, September 5, 2019, I received a call from the Administrator of Cimarron Pointe Care Center in Mannford relating to me specific allegations of abuse by members of the Cimarron Pointe Care Center clinical staff. These specific allegations were provided to her by Lucky Miller, Chief of Police of Mannford, Oklahoma.
Chief Miller is an excellent administrative and investigative officer and has worked closely with the Nursing Facility on many occasions. He and his staff are quick to respond, capable, professional, efficient and very diligent in their efforts to protect the people of the Mannford community.
At the request of Chief Miller, we were immediately very cautious about divulging this new information. Chief Miller was attempting to arrest those responsible and did not want “word” of the events being spread to those who he was attempting to arrest. He was concerned that they may flee and make apprehension a difficult task. We cooperated and even attempted to lure those suspected to the building so they could be taken into Chief Miller’s custody.
When Chief Miller contacted us yesterday with these horrific allegations, we immediately dropped everything we were doing and went to work to with the new knowledge we gained from Chief Miller and began all of the preparation need to perform evaluation and interviews of residents, interviews of staff and assisting Chief Miller in finding those who are responsible for the abuse committed against our residents.
None of those staff members who perpetrated these criminal and sick acts of abuse against our residents were on duty at the time. We checked to see when they were on the schedule and made arrangements to have their shifts covered by other members of our staff. We communicated their shift times and scheduled work dates to Chief Miller to assist in their apprehension. We handled each of the individuals responsible differently in order to assure that they would never be back in the building where our residents live. At this point in time they are all aware that they have been terminated and have been instructed not to return to the building.
Within two hours of learning of the specific allegations of abuse, we reported the allegations to the Department of Human Services and to the Adult Protective Services. We immediately began reinforcing common sense values, reporting duties and other obligations that staff owe to residents of our building through a process known as “inservice.” All employees will be inserviced as they report for their shifts.
Simultaneously, through interviews of our staff, we are determining if there are other members of our staff who knew of any of these atrocious acts against our residents. We have an absolute “zero tolerance” rule. Those health care providers who know or even hear of such acts and fail to report what they know or have heard are immediately terminated and reported to the State of Oklahoma.
We do not exist for the sake of employees. We exist for the sake of our residents who are dependent on us for care. We have total disdain not only for those who perpetrate such acts but also for those who are compelled to protect anyone who does.
We know that three of the four employees who have been terminated as a result of these acts of abuse are from Mannford. In each instance these people were hired by following a very strict hiring process. The State of Oklahoma has enacted, in an effort to curtail a deeply concerning trend of nursing home abuse, a very strict hiring process that involves background checks and fingerprinting. We zealously follow the protocol and endorse it as our own policy to keep abuse perpetrators out of our buildings. Nothing in the “prehire” history of these individuals suggested that they were a potential threat to our residents.
Myself and the administrative team at Mannford and the Home Office staff are sickened and in some instances physically affected by the knowledge of these twisted and indifferent acts by members of our staff. Of the four persons accused, three were employed by us as late as yesterday afternoon. The fourth employee was terminated sometime ago for speaking harshly and profanely to a resident. There have been no complaints about the remaining three employees who are involved and who were terminated yesterday. As indicated, above, one of those three has been arrested and the other two are to our knowledge still at large.
When being advised of these allegations of abuse, the reaction has been one of complete shock. We are told by local administrative staff that there were no indications of what has now been “brought to light.” It reminds all of us that we can never accept at face value the purported good intentions of employees who work with our residents. It reminds us that we cannot even accept the high standards imposed by the State and readily adopted by us in the hiring process. It is disappointing to know that these “kind” of sick, calloused people exist in our communities but the harsh reality is that they do.
As a result of this event, we will be more vigilant and more protective and will install new protocol in an effort to prevent acts such as these from ever happening again.
Frank Sullivan, Jr.
LLC Manager and Owner
DHS issued the following statement to News On 6:
“This is a heartbreaking case. Adult Protective Services (APS) case records are confidential by law. APS is not legally required to notify law enforcement when an APS investigation in a long term care facility begins; however, APS reports the results of its investigations to the local District Attorney who determines whether or not charges would be filed in a particular case.